Concerns raised over future of social housing in Uttlesford

Arthur Coote is portfolio holder for housing at Uttlesford District Council

Arthur Coote is portfolio holder for housing at Uttlesford District Council - Credit: Resident for Uttlesford

Nineteen new council homes have been purchased in Great Dunmow amid concerns that the expansion of Right to Buy will remove affordable homes for those in need.

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) said they were 'delighted' by the purchase, but were concerned about the impact of Right to Buy on social housing.

R4U Councillor Arthur Coote, who is portfolio holder for housing at Uttlesford District Council, said “At UDC we are delighted to have purchased 19 new-build council homes. A shelter over your head is a basic need, and these new properties are an important part of UDC ensuring just that.

"The properties, in Great Dunmow, are complete, and we expect the new tenants to be able to move in very soon. They have been funded from developer contributions, some borrowing, and receipts from Right to Buy.

“Owning a home is an important aspiration for many, so it is great when a tenant no longer needs a council provided home.

"The downside of Right to Buy means that a council permanently loses an affordable house for someone who does need one. In fact, since the scheme began across the UK, two million houses have been lost that were available for social rent.

"Disappointingly the government’s scheme also forces councils to sell them at up to 70 per cent below what they are worth. The result is that a local authority has to replace the lost council house at a much higher market cost, making Right to Buy an appalling value for the public purse. The situation has just been made worse.

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"The government now intends to force Housing Associations, which are private social landlords, to do the same. In effect they are nationalising something they don’t own and then privatising it – and the losers are those that need an affordable home and those that provide them. Right to Buy has been abolished in Scotland and Wales, and Northern Ireland follows this year.

"We are writing to the Westminster government to urge that they do the same in England too and instead prioritise affordable homes for those most in need.”

R4U leads Saffron Walden Town Council, and is a minority party on Great Dunmow Town Council.